The vast sea of sage expands as far as the eye can see, the smell in the air is refreshing and the action is about to start. This is an endless cycle that have occurred for thousands of years. Predator and preys long time relationship that keeps all things in check thru this amazing Eco system.
The golden eagle is on the glove and the party starts the walk down into the sage. The prey the eagle will be pursuing is white tailed jack rabbit also known as the prairie hare. They are not an easy prey, these hares know all the tricks in the book to get away. They use amazing jumps and run upwind to get the bird to slow down. Once they are in the clear they will run for the horizon usually not stopping until they are way out of site.
The eagle has its own bag of tricks. These large raptors are made for this with an amazing design to take on these elements. This particular eagle was from these areas. The sage, the wind, the vastness he all knows too well and flies right at home. There are four of us in the field and when we start our all thru the sage the chases commence. Not every jackrabbit we see does the eagle catch, the hunts are are level playing field and "Dexter" the male golden eagle is having to work hard. He powers thru the wind, stoops at the running jack and a list moment jump save the hare. He remounts back to the falconers gauntlet to start another hunt. He quickly launches upwind catching a huge gust and uses his enormous wings as sails to gain amazing altitude, the hare changes directions and makes a huge mistake. It chooses to run downwind, The eagle, now using the wind gains amazing speed , wings steer a muscular missile body and large talons draw out as he nears the hare. In a sudden stoop it's over. The Jack has met the end, the eagle controls the prey with amazing strength and when we get to them both the hare is dead.
Nature is both beautiful and cruel , but this is the way it is. This is what keeps our ecosystems in check, healthy and thriving. At the end of the day we caught five jackrabbits, all were well deserved by the eagle. The work was hard, the flights amazing. The golden eagle mastering gusting winds and powering thru amazing flights. I never celebrate the death of the prey but celebrate the successful hunt of the eagle. We chase way more than we catch in fact that day we must have chased way over 25 hares. With some of the misses being the most exciting. All four of us cheering the incredible flight of the eagle and the maneuverability of those desert hares.
At the end of the day, it is our passion and fellowship we share for birds of prey. It's gathering around and spinning yarns of past hunts and birds we have flown. Sharing experiences, knowledge and information on what brings us together. Like art , falconry has brought me friends and family. In fact is is an art. One that requires a bird of prey instead of a pencil or brush. Like art it needs to be practiced to accomplish goals of becoming better. Like art to me it's a passion and an addiction. A passion I love.
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